What Matters to Patients?

You might be the most precise, well-liked, and well-educated dentist, but if your patients do not feel comfortable they’re not likely to return, or worse, they’ll reconsider seeking dental care altogether. For some, fear has become a routine part of the dental experience. Although this fear is unique to each patient, similarities can be seen from case to case. The question then becomes, what matters most when patients go to the dentist? Here we will explore this question and look at 4 concerns likely in the minds of your patients.

1. Timing

Your patients might like you, but that doesn’t mean they like visiting the dentist. For reasons beyond their fear, patients don’t want to stay at the dentist any longer than necessary. Making coming-and-going as easy as possible is essential, which begins with efficient scheduling and optimal wait times. Balance quality care with the highest respect for your patients’ schedules. An easy way to reduce fear is to make less time for it.


2. Judgment

No one thinks their teeth are perfect and most people don’t want to be reminded of it. Dentists are responsible for expressing health concerns about the mouths they examine, but where does that line get drawn? Are you and your team on the same page about what is and is not appropriate when talking about a patient’s teeth? This can have consequences beyond an uncomfortable experience- patients need confidence if they’re expected to take ownership of their dental health and your treatment plan. Dentistry has a cosmetic dimension not shared by doctors in many other disciplines, so advice and comments might be interpreted in regards to their image instead of their health.

3. Clarity

Going to the dentist is routine, but can be unpredictable. Yes, patients have been brushing and occasionally flossing, but largely they’re unsure of what their dentist might find. In an unpredictable situation, the most amount of clarity will ease anxiety. If patients have an idea of the itinerary and the procedures you’re planning, they will be able to prepare. A prepared patient is more likely to jump on board with a treatment plan. But clarity extends beyond a schedule. For example: Will there be an unfamiliar hygienist working on a patient? Are out of pocket costs clear? Will the treatment require multiple visits? These types of questions will affect your relationship with patients. If they feel that you’re being as honest and clear as possible, trust begins to form, meaning loyal patients with higher case acceptance.

4. Entertainment & Amenities

Your dental office is a business and the experience of coming to your practice is a part of your brand. Much like other service-oriented businesses, dental offices need strong experiential marketing in order to keep customers coming back. Beyond growing your practice, investing in your practice “brand” means making the most comfortable experience for patients. A patient who is watching their favorite Netflix show is likely to be more at ease than a patient trying to make small talk with a stranger’s fingers in their mouth. By building a culture of comfort in your practice, you’re saying to both your nervous patients and your most confident patients, ‘I care about the experience you have when you come to my office.’ Your attention to their comfort can make a difference: Wi-Fi access, games for children, a place to charge a phone, or a space to work during a wait might encourage even the busiest people to schedule an appointment. These small, inexpensive changes help build your brand while also improving the patient experience.